Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Ames Debate

Look, as far as effects, debates mostly don't matter. On top of that, it doubly doesn't matter (at least with respect to the nomination contest) what Gingrich, Cain, Santorum, and Huntsman do...they aren't going anywhere, and everyone knows it or should know it. Same, basically, with Ron Paul. Bachmann? Really, I basically think the same is true with her, although she's certainly going to get plenty of votes Saturday and may well get plenty when the voting begins...but how she does in debates at this point isn't going to change that much. And there's really nothing much going on for Romney in these, either. He has to avoid self-immolation, but that's a low bar. He gets to look far more presidential than the others. He did both of those things.

Tim Pawlenty had something on the line tonight, though; he's desperately trying to convince party actors that he's really viable after all. As I said over at Greg's place today, he probably is to the point of needing to manufacture some good news about his candidacy. I don't think he did that, although if he does somehow manage to do it on Saturday at the Straw Poll then his debate will look great in retrospect, so that's something I suppose. However, the real test of whether Pawlenty manufactured good news for himself will come in the postmortems in the GOP-aligned press, and I'm not energetic enough tonight to follow any of it.

Also, I thought the questioning was mostly overrated, judging from the early positive reviews I saw. But that's okay; we'll have plenty more debates before this is all over.


  1. I think Bachmann does help herelf in these debates. From what I've seen, she's the most on-point of the candidates - never mind that the point is usually insane. She really iced Romney tonight on the individual mandate.

  2. Romney should be terrified. He has to know that an opposition is only just now preparing the bombardment. When it comes, he's going to be enfiladed.

    Still, it seems logical to assume that one of the 4 governors is going to be the GOP candidate (Perry's not in yet, but he seems poised.).

    There is no runaway winner here. If things stay on current trajectory, they'll easily defeat Obama in the general, but that will be a statement about Obama, mostly.

  3. Assuming the fourth governor in Anonymous' post above is not Buddy Roemer, an interesting implication arises:

    There is currently a plausible Republican nominee, whose latest marketing maneuver was a hagiographic 'documentary' receiving zero positive reviews at, and much more damningly, $100,000 or so of box office receipts, per, ranking it 324th overall for the last 12 months.

    Its hard to put in context a candidate that fails so spectacularly at such a visible effort at branding and yet remains viable for POTUS. (Aside: Palin didn't produce the movie and allegedly wasn't involved with it, but cmon, of course she was). McCain had some down months, and so did Clinton, but the Palin movie falls squarely into laughingstock territory.

    And yet, a viable candidate she remains. That's hard to figure.

  4. I'm confused about why you think Tim Pawlenty has a chance at viability. His polling (national, Iowa, New Hampshire, whatever) is awful. He's well below one or more of your non-viable candidates in every poll I've seen. His campaign has been woefully bad (maybe not Huntsman bad, but still). He's got very little money, no signs he can raise money, and no personal fortune or rich friends who can superPac for him.

    Why does he "look good on paper"? Because the national press thought he was a viable candidate? Because he was a governor? I just don't see it. He's not going to win the Ames straw poll by wishing it. Where is his support going to come from?

  5. Pawlenty is an ex governor. Obama's an inexperienced neophyte, and the obvious move has long been to run an experienced governor to replace him. Hence, Pawlenty will remain in play, at least until things shake out... and this Iowa dog and pony show means little in that shaking out process, as we should all know.

    Pawlenty has friends that matter, secured through his time as governor, as do Romney, Huntsman and Perry. That's why one of these 4 governor types will be the 45th President of the United States... to varying degrees, they have a foundation of support that can get it done... and their opponent is very weak, which is the biggest key to their success.

    Palin isn't running. She'll be a force, both similarly and differently to the way she was in the 2010 election. But if you want it, you have to run, and she's not showing any signs that she either wants it or is running. All signs are that she's going to play that 2010 role again.

  6. "Obama's an inexperienced neophyte."

    You might want to reconsider your tenses. That sentence might have seemed plausible during the last election, but it is completely unrelated to reality now. Obama has been President of the United States for two and a half years, which makes him by several magnitudes the most experienced candidate running.

  7. Not to mention that, by the time of the election, Obama will have been president for as long as Mitt Romney has held any elective office.

    (I thought the fourth governor was Huntsman, though when I think as a former Obama Admin official his path to the nomination is kind of like Al Franken's scenario for an Arlen Convention.)

  8. Sorry, but the inexperienced neophyte just signed off on the Bush tax cuts, following which he made a complete strategic reversal and painted himself into a political corner on tax increases.

    These disjointed flailings are the hallmark of the inexperienced neophyte.

    He's just feckless and ineffectual, as most inexperienced neophytes are. Carter held office longer than Romney, too, and before being elected president. Unfortunately, he had the same problems as Obama today, and was every bit as feckless and ineffectual.

    It's too bad, but the guy just doesn't have it. I could be a better lefty president than Obama, and I'm a conservative. I'd have gotten most or all of what he's gotten through, mostly because the Left controlled Congress and he didn't have to do anything but stand around and vote present, something he does have experience with.

    But signing those Bush tax cuts and not following up with coherent and connected policy formulation is just the blunders of somebody who's not fit for the office. He doesn't understand how to enact public policy... because he's never had to do it... it has always been done around/despite him... even for the past 2.5 years.

    Look for one of those 4 governors to take the oath of office on January 20, 2013.


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